How can I tell if my child is vaping?

Students are looking for ways to buy the liquid used in vape pens. The number of students vaping in our schools has sharply increased. But, unsuspecting parents find themselves in a troubling situation when they learn their kids are hiding them.

The pressure to vape is high for teenagers. We’ve given a parent and their child anonymity due to the bullying and peer pressure the teenage may face if her identity becomes known.

For the child’s parents, the signs were tough to spot.

“One day we just uncovered a jewel pod in her room,” said parents who helped their daughter quit vaping.

The conversation with your child about vaping is difficult.

“Do you feel you have to do this?” the parents asked their child. “Do you feel that it’s an addiction?”

But when a secret addiction festers, the danger is not a harmless fad. It can have a negative impact on a teen’s body, mind and future growth.

“Maybe it’s a THC thing,” said Robert Butz, principal of Fort Myers High School. “A JUUL thing but the THC — that’s a felony so they go from 0 to 100 very, very, quickly and then we’re holding hearings, they’re getting suspended … we’re sitting in a meeting with the parents and the parents going, ‘my kids a good kid.'”

That is the message the School District of Lee County wants to spread after seeing rates of vaping triple among their students. The district has seen over 600 tobacco offenses, which is triple the average from a few years ago.

For parents unsure if their children are vaping there are signs to lookout for according to the district’s prevention specialist.

These can include headaches, increased thirsts, any unexplained cotton-candy sweet smells and seeing the device, which has a distinctive appearance.

Early detection can prevent a severe problem as it is an uphill battle once the addiction starts. There is nothing to help break the habit.

The Food and Drug Administration has not approved any nicotine patches or gums for minors.

“Do we have addiction services they can help all these young people in the county?” Butz said. “I don’t think so. Not to the extent to which the students are getting addicted.”

This student, who’s parents expressed difficulty in having a vaping conversation with their child, said she finally quit.

“I have a lot of supportive friends and everything,” said the student. “Now, it’s not even something that I would think about doing anymore.”

But parents urge, look for signs, even in middle school students and have the conversation.

“Parents have to get involved they have to get involved and there’s no shame in this — they’re kids,” said the parents.

To stop it before it starts.

“I feel better now, because it’s a waste of money and it’s a waste of time and it’s just not worth it at all,” the student said.

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Reporter:Anika Henanger
Writer:Michael Mora
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